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Sondland testifies that Giuliani directed a quid pro quo with Ukraine at Trump's request

Posted at 7:12 AM, Nov 20, 2019

As part of his opening statement in an impeachment inquiry hearing, Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that President Donald Trump's personal lawyer directed a quid pro quo that Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden's son or not be invited to the White House.

"Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, DNC server, and Burisma," Sondland said.

Sondland also testified that Giuliani was "expressing the desires" of Trump, and that his staff was aware that Trump had placed great importance on the investigations.

Sondland's testimony comes just weeks after he dramatically changed a written statement to Congress to say that he did recognize that President Donald Trump offered a clear quid pro quo to Ukraine. Sondland now says President Donald Trump directed the Ukrainians to open an investigation into Hunter Biden, or else Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky would not receive a meeting with Trump and the Ukrainians would not receive key military aide.

Watch the proceedings live in the player below.

While previous witnesses have testified about President Donald Trump's involvement in the Ukraine scandal on second-hand knowledge, other witnesses have testified that Sondland spoke directly to the President about opening investigations into the Bidens. Witnesses have also testified that Sondland spoke directly to Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as Giuliani developed what other witnesses have called an alternate foreign policy in Ukraine outside of the State Department.

Sondland's testimony will occur in the first of two sessions on Wednesday. His testimony will begin at 9 a.m., and at 2:30 p.m., deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affair Laura Cooper, and the undersecretary of state for political affairs, David Hale will testify.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.